The Deuce: Episode 7 Review


What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this? - Frankie Martino

I'm a whore. - Ashley

This isn't something I necessarily expected to write, especially not to open this review, but I feel compelled to lead off with it. The Deuce has entered American Horror Story territory for me. I recognize the quality of both shows, but they're not for me. As I've worked through The Deuce, and I've already seen the finale, I know for a fact this isn't a show I enjoy watching.

Despite stellar acting and excellent pacing, I don't get any entertainment out of it. I've had about five minutes of fun in eight hours of content. You guys can let me know @JMartOutkick whether you're watching and whether you want me to keep it on the show roster after this season.

So, after next week's finale review, I'm probably not going to be covering it anymore unless you convince me otherwise. There's too much to watch to review something you're not passionate about that isn't the talk of the viewing public. Honestly, it would make more sense for me to be writing about AHS at this stage, because the ratings are still enormous and it has much more impact than The Deuce.

It would make even more sense to be writing about The Walking Dead, but that show hasn't been particularly good in at least three years. Ratings though, may end up having me write about it before it's all said and done. I reserve the right to change my mind on Season 2 of The Deuce, but it's doubtful right now. Maybe on podcast, but right now, it's just not a particularly inviting show to discuss.

But, let's talk about last night's episode, where things happened, but only three of them meant anything to me. Ashley choosing to run from C.C., tired of her life on the street, hiding out with Abby, quietly seeing Frankie, and then taking off upstate to Buffalo to find her sister, was something this show desperately needed. After watching Darlene come back from North Carolina with Bernice, rather than staying the heck away as Abby hoped she would, the question had to be asked as to whether anyone could escape.

And, for all we know, Ashley will end up back as well, but the minute she decided to walk off the corner, she was either dead or gone. For now, she's the latter, but she could certainly end up the former at some stage. Here, however, we saw at least an attempt at redemption, and not the type that takes a whore from the sidewalk to the porn industry, but true improvement. Whether she pulls it off or not is yet to be determined, but the Ashley story has turned into one of the best on the show.

The history of C.C. using the knife on her in the opener, her falling out of favor as his favorite girl as he's become infatuated with Lori, and her continually complaining about her occupation has all clicked. Last night's move to leave made sense on a human level, rather than just a Hollywood level. It was the most purely entertained and interested I've been in The Deuce in weeks.

Candy turns higher-end, safer tricks, but she's still turning tricks. As she makes it clear when Harvey asks her how things are going, it's still sex, even with more foreplay and less of the final deed. It still makes her despise herself, or look with empty eyes in the direction of an adorned hotel ceiling or a wall. Her dream is to be a director, and to her credit, Harvey is taking her seriously and is teaching her some things. Her story will likely have some highs before some lows, but it's always going to be a mixed bag.

That's the basic philosophy of The Deuce right now. Everyone appears miserable, except maybe Paul, who is loving his private life and seems to be having plenty of fun in his world. Everyone also still has to make a living. Rather than look away from the morally depraved buck, they end up embracing it or moving to it like a moth to a flame. And, just like the moth, once you're too close to the fire, your life disappears into an endless abyss.

Sandra Washington has finally gotten Chris Alston into bed, or is it vice versa? More importantly, does she like him or does she need him? It's unfortunate for Chris, but she needs him first, because his information has led her to the corruption and the kickbacks in the massage parlors, as well as the issues in the no-go zones and everything in between. She urges her guy to look into shell companies and articles of incorporation, under the guise that she's helping him clean things up, but in effect she's doing it for herself.

Plus, you have to wonder what happens to Alston if his police friends figure out what he's doing. Do we REALLY trust Flannagan?

Outside of the Ashley plot, Leon shooting Reggie Love in the chest was by far the most momentous thing we've seen on this show in over a month. It wasn't unpredictable, because he was getting awfully tired of watching this pimp mistreat and verbally abuse his employee. That said, murdering him was a little further than I expected. I saw a punch to the face, but I guess in this world, with these people, maybe that was naive. I also cheered when Leon shot him, because Reggie Love was a hideous human being. Less redeeming qualities than maybe any of his colleagues, including two-faced C.C.

One final point to make is Candy's ability as a director, as well as someone that can encourage talent, was immediately apparent. Her notes, the way she talked to the women, the way she talked about them being beautiful, was the precise opposite of the "all business" Harvey. As she talks to Lori and exposes her breasts, she talks of how perfect they are and how "Santa never delivered" as much as she always hoped to have a set anywhere near those.

Lori has no option but to smile, even though she was lifeless minutes before in a threesome scene. She also smiles after pridefully watching her own movie in one of Mike's self-gratification booths. Again, this isn't an easy watch, but admittedly, she's easy on the eyes.

Bored pimps that lament the lack of responsibility they now have was funny as well, with C.C. pretty pleased with himself for going to see Fantastia. They like actual control, and they figure out very quickly that the parlor game is just dropping the ladies off and leaving. Things are changing, even with the "Public Morals Task Force" still causing problems for Bobby, Frankie, Black Frankie, and the rest of the massage crew.

Candy's future looks "bright," relative to the life she lives, but will it slowly destroy her as it seems to be everyone else? None of these people are happy, none of them are evolved, they're all just scraping by. None of them are rich either, which is another point to make. This series focuses around the pleasure industry, but also the legalization of pornography, which does become lucrative for a FEW. Will she be one of them? Or, will she end up another tragic figure in a David Simon series?

Maybe the better question is will anybody? Next week is the season finale, and it's an extended 70 minute episode. As I said, I've seen it. It's a powerful finish to the year, and it's written by David Simon and George Pelecanos. Michelle MacLaren directs, and as the reigning queen of her craft, that should be exciting to fans of the show. It's a VERY good episode, that much I can tell you. We'll talk about it then.

I'm @JMartOutkick. I've become extraneous to the whole situation.